six first-generation students stand in front of University of Utah waterfall on campus.

Supporting first-generation students

Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, is National First-Gen College Celebration Day and also the 10th anniversary of the University of Utah’s First Generation Scholars Program (formerly Beacon Scholars). This program is designed to provide first-generation U students with a small community on campus which allows students to support each other in achieving academic success and stay connected throughout their educational careers.

Throughout the past decade, the First-Gen Scholars program has helped more than 650 students build community, overcome barriers and develop leadership and programming skills. As the U continues to enroll record high numbers of students, the need for additional resources to support first-generation students is clear. In addition, a first-generation student is now part of the U’s academic leadership team.

“From my experiences as a first-generation college graduate and first-gen Ph.D., the commitment of a university to first-generation students is at the heart of our shared work for holistic student success,” said T. Chase Hagood, who joined the U in July 2021 as the senior associate vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the Office of Undergraduate Studies. “The commitment of the University of Utah to first-generation students is unwavering and I am delighted to announce the arrival of a Alpha Alpha Alpha Honor Society (Tri Alpha) chapter at the U as the society will enhance the already thriving community and resources designed to support first-gen students as they navigate their exceptional educational experiences at the U.”

As part of the creation of a Tri Alpha Chapter at the University of Utah, Hagood and the entire team with Office for First Generation Access will need to identify first-generation faculty and staff members who would like to serve as mentors.

“Along with providing support and mentorship for first-generation students, these staff and faculty will also be inducted as lifelong members into Tri Alpha,” said Dena Ned, associate dean, First Generation Access and associate professor, College of Social Work. “This is an extraordinary opportunity for those leaders in the U community who were also first-generation students to ensure the next generation of students are not challenged with some of the same barriers and difficulties of previous first-generation students.”

If you are interested in becoming a mentor for first-generation students at the U and assisting with the launch of Tri Alpha here at the U, please contact Dena Ned at dena.ned@socwk.utah.edu.